Washington State Employment Commissioner Karen Lee is among 13 state officials with similar jobs who are back East, trying to persuade Congress to extend unemployment benefits by another 13 weeks.
Currently, the combination of state and federal jobless benefits could continue for as long as 79 weeks in Washington state.
“Many unemployment claimants are running out of benefits now, and it will start increasing exponentially by the end of September.” said Sheryl Hutchison, state Employment Security spokeswoman. “But the benefit program itself expires at the end of December.”
The extension would be for federal benefits.
Thanks to some other moves by the Legislature and Congress, the weekly benefits here range from a low of $225 a month to as much as $630 a month.
Karen Lee NASWA news conference remarks
Sept 24, 2009
This past year has been extremely busy for employment security agencies across the country. An unbelievable number of people have come to us for unemployment benefits — and just as many have come to us for help to find a new job.
Unfortunately, with jobs still being slashed by the thousands, we’re not always able to provide job referrals. But thanks to support from President Obama, from Congress and from the federal Recovery Act, we’ve been able to keep unemployment benefits flowing.
We all hope that the recession is indeed lifting – but it will be many months before the employment engine catches up. And meanwhile, unemployed Americans still need to feed their families.
As Congress debates whether or not to further extend unemployment benefits, it is important to remember that our unemployment-insurance system exists precisely for times like these. We cannot – we must not – let our citizens down.